Indianapolis GP Named Best Grand Prix by MotoGP

At the conclusion of each GP season, an awards ceremony is held to celebrate the year’s champions, crowning the top riders in each category, the top manufacturers, and even the top venue for the season. This year, the honors of the latter went to familiar locale, as the Red Bull Indianapolis GP round was named the “Best Grand Prix” of the 2014 season, making it the first North American round to receive such an honor. Selection criteria for the award included consideration of the venue, promotion, and overall facility operations. For the 2014 race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again repaved its infield section, making alterations to several turns in order to facilitate passing and adding to the track’s overall consistency.

Up-Close with the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200

If there’s a motorcycle that launched at EICMA that I wish we had given more coverage to, it would be the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200. The new adventure-sport machine from Ducati is all-new for the next model year, though it would be hard to tell it from the photos. Even our modest collection of “up-close” photos here don’t do justice to the venerable Multistrada. The face of the Multistrada 1200 has been reworked, with the “beak” softened a bit from its falcon-like profile. The intake inlets are larger in appearance, and the headlight housing is noticeably different with its six LED projectors for the Ducati Corner Lights system (on the “S” model). This perhaps makes for an interesting “face” on the motorcycle, and like its predecessor, you will either love it or hate it.

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia

After finishing fifth in the 2014 World Superbike Championship with Aprilia, Marco Melandri will continue with the Italian manufacturer, but switch to the MotoGP paddock for next season. Melandri will join Alvaro Bautista in the Aprilia Racing garage, where they will compete on an updated version of the ART machine, which was originally built to compete under the CRT bike rules. The team, now operated by Gresini Racing, will come up to speed during the 2015 season, and in 2016 they will race with a brand new race bike, which will use the compulsory “open” spec-electronics from Magneti Marelli. For Melandri, the move to MotoGP is a bit of gamble, with Aprilia’s program uncertain.

Up-Close with the Honda RC213V-S Prototype

I can’t decide whether to be elated or disappointed over the Honda RC213V-S prototype, which was debuted this week at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. On the one hand, the RC213V-S lived up to the hype…literally a MotoGP race bike with lights, mirrors, turn signals, and a license plate. On the other hand, for all the waiting and consternation from Honda, what they brought to Milan was a fairly derivative and obvious design. Rumors of a true MotoGP-derived sport bike from Honda have been circling for several years now (closer to a decade, if you’re a reader of MCN), and the project borrows the ethos found in the Ducati Desmosedici RR project, another exclusive GP-bike-for-the-street motorcycle.

The Ducati Streetfighter 848 Is Spared the Axe for 2015

The Ducati Streetfighter lives for another year, as Ducat is showing off the Ducati Streetfighter 848 as a 2015 model year machine at the EICMA show in Milan. There had been doubts about the Streetfighter 848 continuing to be a part of the Ducati lineup going forth, especially as the Italian company has moved away from the 849cc v-twin platform, favoring the 821cc engine variations for the Hypermotard the Monster lines, and the 899cc Superquadro for the Panigale. The Streetfighter was never a big hit in the world market, becoming more of a cult classic machine amongst riders. Combined sales with the Hypermotard account for roughly 20% of Ducati’s annual sales, with the Hypermotard doing the majority of the heavy-lifting in that regard.

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

Cruisers really aren’t our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber, which might explain the lack of coverage for America’s gift to the two-wheeled world on our website. That being said, it’s hard to pass on the lurid Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype that is on display at this year’s EICMA show. A reworked Moto Guzzi California 1400, the MGX-21 is clad in carbon fiber, matte black paint, and red highlights. The carbon fiber disc wheels are a nice touch too (that’s a 21″ wheel up front, by the way), as are the sweeping lines from the front cowl and fenders. We’re finding ourselves a bit smitten with this Moto Guzzi, as true to the brand, it strays from the cruiser norm. We think you’ll like it too, check out the photos after the jump.

Up-Close with the Honda “True Adventure” Prototype

One of the more anticipated motorcycles at the 2014 EICMA show, off-roaders were expecting to see the new Honda Africa Twin in Milan this week. Instead, Honda trotted out what they’re calling the “True Adventure” prototype. Despite not being a production model, the True Adventure prototype looks ready for prime time, and we got a series of “up-close” photos of the machine. Most obvious is the bike’s parallel twin engine, which is rumored to be 1,000cc in displacement. That sizing/weight class seems to jive with the dual front brake discs, which also sports an ABS tone ring. We can expect Honda to have traction control operating off the front and rear wheel speeds as well, and other electronic packages as well.

Money: Motorcycle Racing’s Biggest Problem

What is the biggest problem in motorcycle racing today? Is it the predominant role electronics are playing, ruining the racing? Is it the ever more restrictive rules imposed, killing bike development and the spirit of Grand Prix racing? Is it the lack of competitive machinery, making it impossible for anyone but a factory rider to win a race? Or is it the dominance of the two top manufacturers, driving costs up and discouraging wider manufacturer participation? You can point to all of those and more as being an issue, but they pale in comparison to the real problem the sport of motorcycle racing faces at the moment: Money. Specifically, the lack of it, and the inability of almost everyone involved in the sport to find ways of raising any. All of the ills of both MotoGP and World Superbikes can be traced back to this single failure.

Investcorp Buys 80% of Dainese for €130 Million

A story we have been chasing for some time now, Lino Dainese has finally found a buyer for his namesake company, Dainese. The purchaser is the aptly named private equity firm Investcorp, which is headquartered in Bahrain, and has additional offices in New York, London, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. Buying 80% of the company’s stock for a reported €130 million, Investcorp’s valuation of Dainese would therefore be set at €162.5 million. The other 20% of the company is retained by Lino Dainese, himself. Dainese’s future goals rest heavily on its airbag technology, as Dainese plans on bringing D-Air to markets outside of motorsport and sport in general. The company also has an aggressive plan to grow outside of Italy, making a bigger push into North America and developing markets.

Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen Concept

The second of Husqvarna’s street concepts, the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen is a scrambler styled machine that uses the same 373cc single-cylinder engine as the Vitpilen concept. Swedish for “Black Arrow”, the Svartpilen continues the idea that less is more, and applies the concept to a more off-road motif. Not all the dissimilar to the Moab and Baja concepts the Husqvarna showed before its acquisition by KTM, clearly the Swedish brand is keen to tap into its lost history of Steve McQueen and the scrambler motif. Perhaps Ducati’s foray into this space is added motivation, but the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen concept is a bike unique to itself. That might be because the concept machine is based off the KTM 390 Duke, which is an unlikely though budget-friendly donor machine.

Leaked: 2013 KTM 390 Duke – 373cc, 43hp, EFI, A2 Ready

11/12/2012 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Leaked: 2013 KTM 390 Duke   373cc, 43hp, EFI, A2 Ready 2013 KTM 390 Duke leak 01

The Dutch folk at Nieuwsmotor have snuck their way onto the EICMA showroom floor, snapped photos of the KTM 390 Duke kiosk, and posted the images to their blog — giving us the first proper viewing of the Austrian brand’s 373cc street-thumper. Like the 2013 Honda CBR500R, the  2013 KTM 390 Duke is setup for the A2 licensing tier in Europe, and accordingly makes 43hp @ 9.500 rpm and 26 lbs•ft of torque @ 7,250 rpm.

Complete with ABS and built in India by minority shareholder Bajaj, the 2013 KTM 390 Duke is slotted to enter the US market next year, and should be aggressively priced against the competition. For already-motorcyclists and would-be motorcyclists in the market for a cheap, but potent, small-displacement machine, next year is going to be a very good year.

2013 Ducati Hypermotard – Makes More Tickets than Bieber

11/12/2012 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2013 Ducati Hypermotard   Makes More Tickets than Bieber 2013 Ducati Hypermotard 01 635x475

We have patiently been awaiting the arrival of the liquid-cooled Ducati Hypermotard for some time now, and today, a day before the EICMA show, is the day that we get to see what Ducati has been cooking. Simply called the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, the 821cc Testastretta 11° DS v-twin machine is anything but a casual update to Bologna’s maxi-motard.

More than just a reworked Superbike 848 mill, the 2013 Ducati Hypermotard boasts a longer stroke than the 848cc machines, with a much smaller bore. The result is a motorcycle with 110hp at its peak, but with 65.8 lbs•ft of torque at 7,750 rpm. At 436.5 lbs wet and ready to go, the new Ducati Hypermotard on its spec sheet sounds like a rocket out of the corners…assuming you can keep that front wheel down on terra firma.

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada – $13,295 & Ready to Tour

11/12/2012 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

2013 Ducati Hyperstrada   $13,295 & Ready to Tour 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada 01 635x475

With the rumors of the liquid-cooled 2013 Ducati Hypermotard, there was also talk of a midrange Multistrada model at EICMA as well. This rumor then morphed into three distinct Hypermotard models, with one model set on the task of bringing touring to the maxi-motard line. In essence though, what we have is a cross between the Ducati Hypermotard and a Ducati Multistrada 1200 — Bologna just calls it the 2013 Ducati Hyperstrada.

On the outside, the Ducati Hyperstrada is a Hypermotard with revised suspension and a few more goodies to aid in those long-distance trips. However, on its inside, the Hyperstrada really wants to be the Multistrada 1200’s smaller counterpart.

2013 Honda CBR600RR – Botox for an Aging Supersport

11/12/2012 @ 3:41 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2013 Honda CBR600RR   Botox for an Aging Supersport 2013 Honda CBR600RR 635x406

It is hard to believe that the Honda CBR600RR will turn five-years-old in 2013, but the Japanese supersport has long been neglected in the Honda line-up. Actually, the phonomenon has not been limited to the 600cc sport bike, as the Honda CBR1000RR has also been left to whither in the sun for far too long. With the 1,000cc superbike getting a makeover for 2012, it looks like the CBR600RR is finally getting its turn, as well.

As such, the 2013 Honda CBR600RR gets a set of new fairings, which we must admit are rather fetching (the bodywork is good for a 6% reduction in drag, according to Honda). The Japanese company also says that the revised front section improves RAM-air, and thus midrange torque. We won’t being to tell you what’s wrong with that statement, but suffice to say the design helps the 599cc motor breath better.

Other changes include a revised ECU package, 12-spoke wheels, Big Piston forks (BPF), and re-tuned rear shock. Honda is even throwing its “Electronic Combined Anti-Lock Braking System” (C-ABS) on the 2013 CBR600RR. Wowzers. Colors are Red, Repsol Edition, & White/Blue/Red. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, which surely means a price increase is headed the Honda CBR600RR’s way.

2013 Honda CB500X – Eats Potholes on a Budget

11/12/2012 @ 1:59 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

2013 Honda CB500X   Eats Potholes on a Budget 2013 Honda CB500X 635x476

If you haven’t caught on yet, American Honda has announced a trio of 500cc machines, just ahead of the upcoming EICMA show. Featuring the fully-faired 2013 Honda CBR500R sport bike, and its fairing-less sibling the 2013 Honda CB500F, the slightly taller 2013 Honda CB500X completes the trifecta, and adds an adventure-esque dimension to Honda’s midrange options.

Like the Honda CBR500R & Honda CB500F, the Honda CB500X uses the same modest liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 180° crank, parallel-twin motor that will put down 54hp at the wheel for the US market (tiered-license countries will see a 47hp machine).

A slight variation on the chassis that is shared with the other 500cc machines, the CB500X has a bit more travel to its suspension (5.5″ on the front forks), and the seat height is a full inch higher (31.9″ to be precise). Visually the philosophically similar to the Honda NC700X, the Honda CB500X is also a tad heavier than its relatives, sporting 430 lbs of fully-fuel heft at the curb, which is likely due to its larger 4.5 gallon tank (4.1 gallons on the other models).

Building three motorcycles from one versatile core design, American Honda has some aggressive prices on the CBR500R & CB500F, but the American subsidiary of the Japanese brand has yet to release a price on the CB500x. We would expect something in the $5,000 range though when it hits dealer floors in July 2013, with the ABS version getting a $500 price increase over the base model. Full technical specifications are after the jump.

Say Hello to the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200…Again

11/08/2012 @ 7:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Say Hello to the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200...Again Aprilia Caponord 1200 635x508

Leaked well ahead of the 2012 EICMA show, the Aprilia Caponord 1200 again finds its way to the interwebs, albeit in a clearer and more official way. Taking heavy styling cues from the Aprilia RSV4 sport bike, which has become something of the paterfamilias of design at the Italian brand, the 2013 Aprilia Caponord 1200 shares a chassis and motor with the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, and will be the Noale brand’s big offering against the sportier side of the adventure-touring market.

Featuring 17″ wheels, selectable fuel mapping, traction control, and ABS brakes, the new Aprilia Caponord 1200 has all the basic amenities you would expect in increasingly competitive adventure bike market — and if rumors are to be believed, Aprilia will offer a Caponord 1200 with semi-active suspension as well (Aprilia Dynamic Damping, or ADD…no seriously).

2013 Suzuki Hayabusa Gets ABS & Brembo Brakes

10/02/2012 @ 8:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2013 Suzuki Hayabusa Gets ABS & Brembo Brakes 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R 07 635x418

It’s hard to believe that for over a decade, the Suzuki Hayabusa has gone relatively unchanged from its original form. Sure, there have been some updates — a nose-job here, a face-lift there, but let’s be honest, the engineer responsible for the Suzuki GSX1300R has mostly just been pushing paper around his desk since the Clinton administration.

That tradition has not come to a close for the next model year, though the 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa does get some massaging from the Japanese brand. Updated with an anti-locking brakes system (ABS), the 2012 Suzuki GSX1300R, as it name implies, joins the rest of the GSX-R family in getting Brembo Monobloc calipers.

53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e

10/02/2012 @ 6:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

53 Photos of the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & Z800e 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 41 635x476

We already knew well ahead of the INTERMOT show that Team Green would debut the Kawasaki Ninja Z800, a bike that replaces the best-selling sport-naked in the Europe: the Kawasaki Ninja Z750. Featuring an 806cc inline-four motor, the new Z800 comes in two flavors: the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 & the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e. The Kawasaki Ninja Z800 makes 111hp and 61 lbs•ft of torque, while the Kawasaki Ninja Z800e gets a bit more watered down with 94hp and 56 lbs•ft of torque, though it saves 6 lbs over its more burly counterpart.

The two-pronged model approach by Kawasaki is surely being done to better capture a wider audience with the Ninja Z800 line, which also explains why the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e comes with a 47hp A2 license compliant option as well. Designed to be at home on the set of the next Transformers movie, you will either love or hate the lines of the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 — we happen to think it looks rather edgy and mean, which is how we like our street-nakeds to carry themselves.

For its added price and power, the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800 comes 41mm KYB forks that feature preload and rebound damping only — the same goes for the Z800’s rear shock. The 2013 Kawasaki Ninja Z800e, however comes with forks and a rear shock that have only preload adjustment capability, and no damping controls. Both models come with an optional ABS package. We do not expect the Kawasaki Ninja Z800 to come to North America at this point in time. Waiting for you after the jump are 53 photos of the new Kawasaki Ninja Z800.

2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory Gets ABS & Other Refinements

10/02/2012 @ 4:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory Gets ABS & Other Refinements 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC 05 635x463

While the 2013 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC may look like the same dominant superbike that has been blowing the doors off at bike shootouts, but the company from Noale has made some subtle changes to its V4 street weapon, the most noticeable of which is a three-level dual-channel ABS system from Bosch. The ABS unit can be completely disengaged, should a rider feel it necessary to retain the ability to lock-up the newly added Brembo M430/M50 calipers (the same brake calipers as the Ducati 1199 Panigale), and brings the Aprilia RSV4 in-line with its other liter-bike competitors.

While Aprilia could have stopped there and called things a day, the Italian brand has made further changes to the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC’s stock engine placement in the chassis, as well as other refinements in the RSV4’s exhaust and ECU. The result is a lower center of gravity, and a mild boost in peak horsepower and mid-range torque, which brings the revised RSV4 Factory up to 181.4hp at the crank and 86.3 lbs•ft of peak torque @ 10,500 rpm.

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Concept – Coming in 2014?

10/02/2012 @ 12:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

Suzuki V Strom 1000 Concept   Coming in 2014? 2014 Suzuki V Strom 1000 concept 01 635x486

While the KTM 1190 Adventure and BMW R1200GS were grabbing all the headlines from INTERMOT today, we think the real news from the adventure-touring section is the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 concept, a nearly production ready bike that will debut in 2014. While Suzuki V-Strom owners we preach from the mountain the off-road prowess of their bikes, the truth is that Suzuki did not have adventure-touring on its mind when it built the V-Strom 1000 (or 650 for that matter), with the emphasis more on the touring side of that designation, than the adventure.

A quick look at the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Concept for the 2014 model, and that has clearly changed. A bit late to the party, Suzuki has finally put together what looks like a serious ADV bike, which will likely rival other Japanese ADV bikes like the Yamaha Super Ténéré, and give BMW, Ducati, KTM, and Triumph buyers some serious pause before they plop down the extra cash on those premium market bikes.